During the first few weeks of the Ross Leaders Academy, students have begun a process of “self-excavation,” which indicates an effort to dig within oneself and uncover important personal data. This process helps students get below their own surface and bring dominant aspects of themselves into their present and active consciousness in ways that clarify and crystallize their future intent. The process all adds up to telling their life story of the things that matter most to them. The heightened awareness of these things will serve as a navigational device as they make important decisions in their future. Check out the personal excavation process for RLA student, Sarah Inendino.
I layed on the grass with my arms outstretched over my head. My Grandma sat on the porch next to me watching the cars pass by. I pointed to the sky and with excitement yelled, “That one looks like Mickey Mouse wearing a bike helmet! I bet he is on his way to see Minnie!” She looked at me and smiled. As the cloud drifted overhead my Grandma quietly sang “Over the Rainbow” to herself. At 5 years old, I had no idea the impact these moments would have on me and how much they would shape the person I am today.
I had never been asked to define my core values, yet I did not think it would be overly difficult. We were given about 40 cards with different values and asked to sort them into three piles: Not important for me, important for me, and very important for me. After the initial sorting we looked at the words we had under “very important for me” to see if there were common themes. I had 23 cards that were in the “very important for me” column that needed to be narrowed down to 5 to 7 overarching ideas. As I sat and just stared at the cards, I soon realized this was not going to be as easy as I first had thought. Eventually I was able to breakdown my 23 cards into four groups. The four groups that I created represented my core values. I titled these groups: Divergent thinking, supportiveness, exploration, and drive.
This exercise not only helped me reflect on my own values but to appreciate the values I see in others. I started to see people differently and question where their ideas stemmed from in their thinking. I examined my life experiences that shaped and deeply impacted me. I identified the highest moments in my life and worked to express the low points. I sorted through an array of values to determine what was important to me. I openly shared with my team about situations and people that had hurt me and yet shaped me. Due to my teams willingness to listen, I was eager and invested to learn about them, too. We looked for commonalities among us and learned about our differences.
I sometimes leave meetings feeling a little emotionally exhausted. I have reflected on what it means to live my values and what that might look like in the future. I have also admitted some things to myself that I probably would have preferred to stay under the surface. At the end of the day though, I am proud of myself and my colleagues in the program. I look forward to continuing the journey and developing my leadership capacity.
By Sarah Inendino, PhD in Music Education, 2020